Novi Digital Entertainment, a subsidiary of Star India owned by Disney, has received temporary relief from the Madras High Court after challenging the new billing system of the Google Play Store. Novi Digital is the operator of India’s leading streaming app, Disney+ Hotstar.
In an interim ruling on Tuesday, the Madras High Court ordered Google to refrain from removing the Disney+ Hotstar streaming app from its official app store. Additionally, Novi Digital has been directed to pay a 4% commission to Google for downloads through the Play Store.
Novi Digital became the fifteenth company to contest the Google Play Store’s new billing system and filed a petition with the High Court. Though the case was submitted yesterday, the hearing took place today. Novi Digital declined to comment on the verdict.
Prior to this, Matrimony.com, People Interactive, Info Edge India, Arha Media and Broadcasting, Primetrace Technologies, Cold Brew Tech, Mebigo Labs, Crescere Technologies, Verve Mobile, Catchup Technologies, Sorting Hat Technologies, Alt Digital Media Entertainment, Nasadiya Technologies, and Ananda Vikatan Digital had also challenged Google’s new billing policy.
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Satish Parasaran represented Novi Digital in the High Court, arguing for a similar interim arrangement as the other petitioners between Disney+ Hotstar and the Google Play Store.
The Madras High Court issued a temporary injunction that prevents Google from delisting apps owned by the petitioners while requiring them to pay a 4% commission to the tech giant for app downloads. Novi Digital argued that the new billing policy restricts app developers’ options as they are forced to include Google Pay as a payment method even when using a third-party gateway.
“The app developers must pay an 11% fee to Google Pay under the new billing system, even if they choose a third-party payment system. Before the CCI order, Google Pay was the only default payment option, which charged a 15% fee,” explained a lawyer involved in the case.
Earlier, Google had notified Novi Digital about the use of a non-Google Play billing system and threatened to remove the streaming app from the Play Store, as reported by ET.
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